Meet the Professionals

Interview with… the fruit tree expert

Japanese plums from Reads Nursery

Reads Nursery has been growing plants and trees since 1841 and has built up a strong reputation for its expertise in popular and more unusual fruit trees. We caught up with Stephen Read to get some insight into the business…

1. Your nurseries have been in operation for over 170 years. Have there been much change in fruit tree buying habits in that time?
I have not seen all of it as I am not quite that old! In recent years customers are more adventurous, trying more interesting fruits or newer varieties which are more resistant to disease. The trend for autumn planting is still there but more now plant in spring from containers.

2. What’s your most popular item?
Figs probably. Many are really tough and will grow well all over the UK.

3. And the most unusual?
Japanese plums (pictured). Very tough – they flower way ahead of any other fruit so careful where they are planted – but they stay very compact and offer a fabulous spring display of blossom.

4. What tree or bush would you recommend for a small garden or allotment plot?
A ‘duo’ tree – a cordon we now grow with two varieties, one on top of the other, super compact and simple.

5. What should someone look for when picking out a fruit tree or bush?
Healthy white roots, not spiraled, and good clean graft union.

6. We like using fruit to make booze – have you got any favourite recipes?
Quince brandy is very good, mulberry gin too!

7. And finally, what’s your favourite fruit?
Japanese plums. Sweet, juicy, flavoursome and early.

For more information on Reads Nursery – with a host of fruity recipes (including that quince brandy) – visit their website at

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